I have been living in ski resorts pretty much for the last 16 years. I haven’t just lived in Winter Park once but twice and have to say it is one of those places with fairy dust scattered all over.
I haven’t been back in quite a while and forgot just how much I love that place. Coming over Berthoud Pass you can just smell the pine and the clean fresh air. For some reason people don’t really think about Winter Park as first choice for a ski trip or summer mountain trip and I kind of like it that way. It is the closest resort to airport, no major traffic jams, no major lift lines and skiing (Mary Jane especially) is excellent. And they may only have one of each type of restaurant but my goodness they are the best. I still salivate over a meal I had 15 years ago!
Winter Park is in Grand County and as you may guess it is quite “grand”. Grand Lake is about 45 minutes up the road on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park. Grand Lake is the largest natural lake in Colorado. It has a wonderful Main Street that takes you back in time with great shops and cafés. You can rent boats, hang out on the beach or just stroll down the wooden plank sidewalks.
I want to share with you one of many magical spots I discovered this past weekend. If you keep going once you hit the end of Main and walk about 2 more minutes, you will see a bridge that crosses the river. From there just go to the right side and find a way down to the river and you can walk out on the rocks to a wonderful rock island. It was just amazing sitting there with my toddler (who is too young for a boat) and two Golden Retrievers (wonderful dogs but not well enough trained for the beach), and two of my very best girlfriends, our husbands and their kids. We sat for about five hours with a cooler and chairs taking in the fall beauty only the Rocky Mountains can give you. During that time we had a mamma deer and her two babies cross the river twice, a few other deer wander around and something quite rare, a mamma moose, two babies and dad! (Now anyone from the mountains knows they don’t normally hang out with dad!) They had been hanging around the town all day and that was our cue to finally get up and get going. No need to get killed by moose during my happy time!
If you get a chance while staying in Winter Park, take extra time go see all that is Rocky Mountain National Park and then venture out to Grand Lake and experience a little extra magic!